Swami Sahajananda, founder of the Sunlit Club, in the inaugural message of 2006, quoted the words of the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, "Pain is a blessing. God has been merciful. Lest you forget the purpose of your life here, lest you should take this phenomenal world as the ultimate reality, lest you should waste your time here in fruitless tasks, He had granted you a blessing in disguise—pain, suffering, misery. Pain is a blessing. It reminds you again and again that pain is the nature of the world. Pain brings home to you the truth that pleasure is not in objects. Pain sets you a-thinking: "How can I get unalloyed happiness?" When you get knocks and blows in the daily battle of life then your mind is duly turned towards God. You yourself experience pain; you see others suffering; you see before your own eyes, death carrying away mighty men, separating man from wife, father from son. Pain reminds you: 'Your turn will come. Now, wake up and strive. None of these people on whom you shower your affections can help you when I summon you' ".
Violence on school campuses is also a cause for concern. The story entitled "Self-control" written by the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, was intended to show learners why one should not resort to this type of behaviour. The story concluded with thoughts from various scriptures as follows:
• Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5.5)
• That one I love who is incapable of ill will, and returns love for hatred, such a one is dear to Me. (Bhagavad Gita)
• The meek shall inherit the land in the hereafter in Paradise. (Quran)
Two DVD presentations, depicting the scourges of drug addiction and other social ills, enacted by our Rishikumaris, Rishikumar and youth boys, were the source of discussion during the breakaway session. It was quite clear from the report back session that many learners grasped the concepts portrayed in the sketches.
The heart of the Sunlit Path Programme is signing the pledge form to try to keep away from these social ills and the filling in of the Sunlit Path Checklist, daily. In the presentation on the Checklist, great emphasis was laid on character building and the role it will play in the success of an individual. In an interactive session, examples of the ten greatest men of the 20th Century were cited and how they attained success. Our presenter said, "They were men of virtue and were admired the world over as good people who gave their lives in the service of others." He exhorted learners to strive to become better people and to walk in the noble footsteps of the ten greatest men of the 20th Century. About the value of a checklist or diary, our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda wrote the following, "A thief cunningly hides in your brain. He has stolen the precious pearl of your soul. He causes you endless trouble. He deludes you. That thief is your mind. You must not be lenient with him. You must subdue him. You must make him your slave. There is no weapon stronger than the spiritual diary with which to control the mind. The Diary is your most faithful and constant companion."
The signing of the pledge form is purely voluntary. By signing the pledge form, the participants make a promise to God to try to keep away from drugs etc., thereby automatically becoming a member of the Sunlit Club. To date there are more than 4 000 members in the Sunlit Club who received a beautiful certificate for taking the courageous stand by signing the pledge form. In addition to this, we post Sunlit Club members a free supply of our quarterly magazine, "Sunlit Path". This magazine will help them to maintain the resolves they take. In Newcastle, 46 learners of the 87 who attended, signed the pledge form to try to keep away from these vices.
In the summation, we pointed out to participants that they are here for a reason, not on holiday or a day out of school, away from their lessons. They are ambassadors of their respective schools and must therefore take back the knowledge that they have imbibed at this workshop. If this information could be cascaded to the schools, to the homes and to the community, the purpose of this workshop would be realised.
Our gratitude to principals of the four schools for allowing their charges to attend this programme during school time. Special thanks to the management of Newcastle High for the free use of the hall and its facilities. We are grateful to Lincoln Heights Secondary for preparing refreshments and meals. And, finally, we thank the Department of Education for their kind permission to organise this workshop during school hours.
This is what learners from Newcastle had to say about the Sunlit Path Workshop on Monday 15 April 2019!
1. Today, in Newcastle High School, I got a lot of information about the wrong things we do. We smoke, drink and commit suicide which is very wrong. The solution to all this is to pray and communicate with God. If we overcome a problem, we have to pray and God will help us. This lesson was very good.
2. The programme was amazing. Now I have learnt more about Self-control, television and silence. Now I know what prayer is about and I know that you don't just pray when you are sad but when you are happy too.
3. I learnt that I must pray daily and I will avoid evil company and I must also pray for others to change.
4. I think that the advice on gambling and TV will be helpful for young people.
5. I have learnt a lot of ways to deal with depression, drugs and alcohol and also bad company. I really enjoyed this program and look forward to attend more programs like this.
6. It is a nice workshop to get out of bad habits like drinking, smoking and taking drugs.
7. I learnt that anger does not solve anything.
8. I learnt about Self-control and being calm in life and keeping away from bad business.
9. I must pray every day and also repeat the Name of God. That I must believe in God and that God is the Creator of everything.
10. I promise to do only good to everyone. Not smoke from today. It will be good for me to stop watching bad programmes on television.
11. Children need to trust in God at all times, no matter what life throws at us.
12. I need to take my problems to God and to patient for an answer.
13. I learnt to choose my friends wisely and not do bad stuff.
14. I've learnt a lot about social well-being and the importance of keeping away from bad things.
15. I've learnt here today to be positive and to spread love. Always speak sweetly and believe in God. Don't have negative friends and don't do wrong deeds.
16. I really enjoyed this workshop and saw the purpose of it. It taught us a lot about God. I think it will make a better person as from today.
17. I learnt that God is always with me and drugs aren't the answer to everything.
18. I learnt that drugs is the curse in my life forever.
19. Today, I learnt that we must respect others and give them love.
20. I would like to thank each and every individual from the Sunlit Path Programme as well as the Newcastle High Principal for hosting life-changing programme.